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1998 High Impact Crash Test

Following a memorable launch campaign, the CitroŽn Xsara has now secured the services of one of the world's top fashion models.

A crash test without trick photography

To demonstrate the safety of the Xsara, Claudia Schiffer took part in a crash-test at 20 km/h without trick photography and without a stand-in. "Imagine what Claudia Schiffer can do for you". To demonstrate the superlative level of global safety offered by the Xsara, Andreas Thomsen, artistic director of Euro RSCG in DŁsseldorf, came up with the idea of a crash test. The participation of Claudia Schiffer reflects a reasoned choice. “When the most beautiful face in the world is entrusted to a Xsara airbag, that’s an irrefutable mark of trust.” declares Jacques Sťguťla, Vice-president of Euro RSCG.

It took 135 people and a large technical team four days to shoot this spectacular ad. In compliance with the wishes of Claudia Schiffer, the ad was not shot in a single take. An official was present to authenticate the performance of the German supermodel.

In autumn 1997, the Xsara teased the curiosity of the French public with an advertisement that was very much out of the ordinary. Eight months on, the Xsara is back on the small screen. This time, the emphasis is on safety and glamour. The two advertisements both reflect the creative talent of the Euro RSCG Group, but they correspond to different objectives. "The Tarpaulin", a film made by Sťbastien Chantrel and programmed last September, showed a Xsara covered by a tarpaulin speeding through city streets before crashing through the window of the Flatiron Building in New York.

This spectacular advertisement sought to build up the reputation of the Xsara.

Judging by the sales figures - 120,000 units sold in Europe at the end of April 1998 of which 40,000 in France – the Xsara did not go unnoticed, despite thetarpaulin.

Star products

The idea for “The Crash-Test" - an advertisement directed by Rebecca Blake and simulating a head-on crash featuring the top model Claudia Schiffer – originally came from Germany. However, in preliminary tests conducted in I997, the French panel preferred the film "The Tarpaulin”. In Germany, however, the crash-test was a great success. In brand awareness surveys, the ad scored a record-breaking 94%, compared with an average of 57%.

In addition to conveying a strong message on passive safety, the crash-test advertisement perpetuates CitroŽn’s practice of using stars to promote its products.

Claude Satinet, Managing Director of CitroŽn points out: “CitroŽn likes to work with stars, the best example being Carl Lewis, a man known for his unique style of taking corners in 200-metre races. He was associated with the Xantia Activa".

After a communications campaign based on roadholding, CitroŽn aims to consolidate its position on the market through an image-building exercise. The involvement of world-famous models emphasizes the focus on looks.

Of cars and fashion models

Television viewers recently saw Cindy Crawford getting out of a Xantia in the middle of the desert. “For the Xsara, the idea was to entrust the most beautiful face in the world to an airbag.” explains Jacques Sťguťla, vice-president of Euro RSCG. The Well-known face chosen for the film was that of Claudia Schiffer, who apparently enjoyed working with the French marque. “I like the concept of the CitroŽn ads." she says.

All the participants present on the set, located in the Californian desert of Yoshua Tree, agree that Claudia Schiffer was “extremely professional”. Ms Schiffer performed the crash test with aplomb even if she admits today that the noise made by the expanding airbag was slightly unexpected.

The next advertisement (to be shown at a date yet to be set) suggests rather than shows, a skilfully camouflaged striptease, again featuring Claudia Schiffer.

Virginie Vťtil


On 29 April, Claudia Schiffer, star of the latest Xsara ad, answered the questions of the international press, live from the extraordinary museum of fairground arts in Paris.

What made you agree to do an advertisement for a carmaker and for CitroŽn in particular?
I've been in the modelling business for ten years and I wanted to do something different. A sort of challenge. I took up CitroŽn’s offer because they have an excellent reputation and because I liked the concept of the ads. And I'm going to continue working with the marque. In the next ad, I take all my clothes off, only you won't actually see anything....

Did you set any conditions before signing the contract?

Yes, I wanted the ad to be made by a reputed director, and I took out an insurance policy with Lloyds for FF 30 million.

How did the shoot go?

We rehearsed in the middle of a Californian heatwave last July with Rebecca Blake, a director who has directed several video clips for Prince. Donna Evans, a stuntwoman who doubled for Sandra Bullock in the film "Speed 2", did a run-through of the crash-test scene and said "Claudia can't do that". I was scared but I said "I’m going to do it.” I remembered what I'd been taught in my acting lessons and I was able to keep smiling.

Is it true that you can't drive?

Yes, it’s true. I never stay in the some place long enough to take a driving test. I didn't need to drive for the ad because the car was controlled by a computer, but I took a few lessons to make it look more natural.

A beautiful woman placing her talents at the service of a beautiful car. Isn't that a bit macho?

Women have fewer accidents than men, so putting a woman behind the wheel to set an example seems a good idea to me!

Iconoclast comments on the campaign
© 2013 CitroŽnŽt/1998 le Double Chevron